Projects and Working Groups

Faculty Areas of Research

The Metaphysics of Science [Prof. Alexandre Guay]

This project aims to develop a metaphysics of science, that is, to elaborate an ontological framework for the natural sciences. At the moment, research in CEFISES concentrates notably on the following questions or problems:

  1. The comparison and also the articulation of the metaphysics of science with other forms of metaphysics (descriptive or revisionist).
  2. The elaboration of structuralist ontological approaches (realist or not).
  3. The study of the relationship between physical structure and theoretical symmetry.
  4. The grounding of the modality of physical structures.
  5. The development of a processual conception of the individual which applies in physics as well as in biology.
  6. The development of a transformational conception of strong emergence.
  7. The elaboration of an ontological grounding for the laws of nature in such a way as to explain the existence of invariance principles, that is, of meta-laws.

Dynamic Aspects of Reasoning [Prof. Peter Verdée]

The goal of this project is to analyze the dynamics of reasoning. More particularly, we analyze context dependent reasoning and look for systematic answers to questions like ‘when and how should one change one’s beliefs?’ and ‘when and how can one draw provisional conclusions?’. The following research topics are handled in the context of this project:

  • The development and analysis of non-classical logics to model the dynamics of reasoning (e.g. adaptive and relevant logics)
  • Dynamic aspects in the philosophy and foundations of mathematics (with emphasis on non-standard models, abstraction and the evolution of mathematical theories)
  • The formal analysis of natural language (understand the dynamic aspects of language by means of mathematical methods – pragmatics, conditionals, implications, causal statements, etc.)
  • The ethics of argumentation and dynamic reasoning (links between creative reasoning, free will, responsibility, and rationality, “when is it permitted/obligatory to change your mind?”)

The History and Philosophy of Chance in Evolution [Prof. Charles Pence]

The theory of evolution is filled with use of chance and probability. For example, natural selection does not guarantee that organisms having a higher fitness will outcompete more poorly adapted organisms; rather, it asserts only that they probably will. Evolutionary biology today thus regularly utilizes probability and statistics to grasp these concepts. I therefore study questions such as the following:

  • What is it about the phenomena studied by evolutionary biologists that requires this use of chance and probability?
  • Should the different uses of chance in evolutionary theory be interpreted in the same way, or in a variety of different manners?
  • What were the philosophies of science developed by authors like Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, or W.F.R. Weldon, who were the biologists from the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries to first introduce these concepts and methods into evolution?

Research on Social and Ecological Transition [Prof. Tom Dedeurwaerdere]

The research on social and ecological transition is conducted in two research teams, the first within the Biodiversity Governance Unit ( and the second within LPTransition, the research Platform on Partnership Research for Social and Ecological Transition (, both at the Université catholique de Louvain. These research teams are currently engaged in various inter-university research projects on ecological and social transition such as the sharing economy in the Brussels Region (project city4coEN) and transdisciplinary research methodologies (WISD project, F.R.S.-FNRS). Recent publications in the field of the philosophy of the social sciences includes a review article on transdisciplinary research “A pragmatist approach to transdisciplinary research” and a book on “Sustainability Science for Strong Sustainability”. All publications are available on line at